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Catherine Carroll’s murderer up for review that would grant him escorted leave

Brian Doyle (right) speaks to lawyer John Duggan in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s in 2002. — Telegram file photo
Brian Doyle (right) speaks to lawyer John Duggan in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s in 2002. — Telegram file photo

Brian Doyle, the man who brutally murdered Catherine Carroll of St. John’s, is up for a review that would grant him escorted temporary absences (ETA).

Carroll was murdered on New Year’s Day 1991, but Doyle wasn’t caught until years later.

He is in prison in British Columbia.

The ETAs are granted by the Parole Board of Canada for medical reasons, administrative purposes, community service, family contact, personal development for rehabilitative purposes and/or compassionate reasons.

Doyle, who lived in the neighbourhood and was known to the family, was sentenced to life with no eligibility for parole for 18 years in 2003 after he pleaded guilty.

The hearing is in August. Family members of the victim have an option of filing a victim impact statement before the board makes its decision.

The shocking story of Carroll’s murder still reverberates in the Newfoundland and Labrador justice system for the way in which the original case was handled.

Carroll’s son, Greg Parsons, was wrongfully convicted of killing his mother in 1994.

He was finally exonerated in 1998 when DNA found at the scene didn't match his. Doyle, who lived in the neighbourhood and was known to the family, was sentenced to life with no eligibility for parole for 18 years in 2003 after he pleaded guilty.

Parsons’ case, along with others, was a key part of the Lamer Inquiry into wrongful convictions in this province. Its report was released in 2006.

Commissioner Antonio Lamer faulted many aspects of the justice system including the investigation.

“Parsons’ case became a runaway train, fuelled by tunnel vision and a noble cause, and picking up many passengers along the way,” Lamer’s report concluded. “The investigative team lacked training and experience. But most of all, it lacked objective critical analysis through leadership. It was a ship adrift ... (and thus) extremely vulnerable to tunnel vision.”

Parsons was 19 when he discovered his mother's body in her home at 16 James Pl. in 1991. He was arrested eight days later and charged with first-degree murder.

She was slashed more than 50 times.

Doyle appealed his sentence more than a decade ago, but it was upheld.

According to details from the court case, Doyle broke into Carroll’s home early Jan. 1, 1991, and used a steak knife from her kitchen to kill her. He later gave no explanation for murder, other than the fact he had been drunk and under the influence of LSD.

At his sentencing in 2003, the court heard about Doyle's time out of the province after the murder.

Doyle increased his drug and alcohol use. He spent time begging on the streets of Los Angeles. He was deported back to Canada for crimes committed in the U.S. He trafficked drugs between Newfoundland and Ontario.

He claimed he was running, not from the law, but himself. But the court was told by the Crown prosecutor that Doyle, if he was truly remorseful, would have turned himself in right away.

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